Gallery of Heroic Women

2018-2019Series of 19 portraits; edited stills from movies, c-prints on oval aluminium plates, 55 x 45 cm each, and printed textile wallpaper (dimensions variable).

For exhibition B.A.R.O.C.K. at Caputh Palace: 13 images.

At Caputh Palace, they serve as female counterparts of the portraits of the Twelve First Roman Emperors. (The castle was built for the electress and later used as a hunting lodge.) 13 as female mythic cipher, later demonized by patriarchal myths and replaced by the number 12.



This series of fictitious portraits deals with fighting and hunting movie heroines and refers to the baroque concept of the ‚Gallery of Heroic Women‘ (book by Pierre Le Moine with illustrations, painting series by Guy François, and others, 16th-17th century). During this period, in European art and literature, an intensive debate about „female“ virtues, fortitude and excellence took place. Why are there so many female protagonists in todays movies and (tv) film series who fight, shoot, hunt, kill? Who are their creators, who their fans? Who are their role models, for whom are they role models? I‘m fascinated by characters like Katniss from The Hunger Games who melds qualities of Jeanne d‘Arc and of a revolutionary, and by Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies. The latter is an action heroine who commiserates with other humans and sacrifices herself for humanity. But Uma Thurman as revenger in Kill Bill and Arya Stark in Game of Thrones cannot be explained with such noble ambitions. Are their characters about emancipation and equality, or about assertiveness, efficiency and optimizing themselves? Or are these strong and partially brutal women – once again – simply angels and demons, created by male phantasies? In any case, these heroines have to perform all virtues formerly split among female and male characters.

Most of these 19 portraits look at the viewer. In ancient times, such gazes painted on bucklers or protective shields, were supposed to impress the adversary and hold demons off. The “ocean” of workout devices on which these portraits are placed refers to the pressure to perform the actresses are subdued.

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